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When A Beta Isn’t

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Last night I managed to run the Inverted Spire strike with a few friends…  Grace and Ammo.  For Grace it was her first time running the strike and while she was not as rabid…  was also a veteran of Destiny 1.  Ammo on the other hand…  the closest she had ever been to Destiny was drawing my Sunbreaker themed avatar.  If you know me very well… or are in that core group of people that I hang out regularly with…  you have had to listen to countless hours of me retelling things that happened in Destiny.  All of that apparently made her curious enough to try it out now that it was coming to the PC and available for download through the already very familiar Battle.net client.  Ammo while completely new to Destiny was by no means an FPS rookie because over the last year or so she has played a significant amount of Overwatch and is way the hell better than I am at it.  One of the things that I like about Destiny on the PC is how largely ubiquitous basic controls are if you have ever played a modern shooter.  Sure there are all manner of extraneous “super power” keys but the core gameplay of shoot shoot reload fall into the standard control scheme we are all used to.  The only real adjustment period of me was figuring out which key binds near WASD did which “power moves”.  Grace took to the game rather quickly and got to play big kid at several moments as she was able to get over and rez the rookie well before I could.  All in all it was a really fun experience and I am super glad that I wound up running the strike in this manner, since during the PS4 beta I largely just random queued for it.

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Last nights experience got me thinking that maybe just maybe releasing through the Battle.net client was more than just a way of having to skip the infrastructure development costs of going to a brand new platform.  Overwatch is a weird game because while it is at its core a competitive shooter… it is also one wrapped in so much story that it is impossible to not at least know some of it even if you are not actively playing the game.  This is a game that I saw be adopted at frightening rates by gamers who were well versed in the Blizzard ecosystem but never really considered themselves fans of the first person shooter genre.  As a result many have had their horizons broadened to realize that yes they could do this shooter thing and with practice get rather damned good at it.  Now we have this Destiny thing coming along and poking its head into their already familiar gaming environment…  so why not take a peek.  I’ve already seen a lot of posts on my twitter feed talking about how individuals are enjoying the Destiny experience but only ever downloaded it because it was available for free through the Battle.net client.  Cross pollination is really beautiful thing… and I have found myself in this same boat several times in the past.  I am not the biggest fan of League of Legends…  but I immediately tried Heroes of the Storm because I wanted to see the Blizzard take on it.  I am not really a huge fan of RTS games anymore…  but I occasionally play Starcraft II because it has amazing storytelling.  I think the Battle.net coup for Destiny… will be bringing a whole bunch of new eyes into the franchise.

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Here is where we get to the problem.  The “Beta” that we are getting to experience isn’t actually Destiny.  It is a bit of a hollow shell that should have been clearly labelled as a demo, because it lacks so many of the reasons why I spent so many hours playing the first game.  If you look at my time played on the tracker sites… something like 77% of my time was spent doing random stuff on Patrol missions.  I liked roaming around, doing events… unlocking secrets on the dreadnaught…  all the while enjoying the really amazing gunplay.  Where are the events like Archon’s Forge or Court of Oryx…  that I could literally spend hours running over and over.  Don’t get me wrong… the Inverted Spire strike is a hell of a lot of fun, and even the 4 player Crucible is starting to grow on me.  The problem being however is that we really are not putting the best foot forward for a bunch of players that may or may not have ever experienced the franchise.  The other problem is that we are not exactly doing a great job of giving players that bounced hard off of Destiny 1 a great reason to feel positive about coming back.  Sure the Homecoming mission has more story elements in it than the entire vanilla game…  but I am questioning if that is enough.  I am bought in for the long haul because I have loved Destiny as a concept and an experience since the moment I got into the original Alpha of the game on the PS4.  Taken King proved to me that the game was worth my devotion and I have been back and at least peripherally active ever since.  I am a member of their core demographic… but had they maybe given us something other than a demo…  it might be enough to gain new followers rather than just galvanize their existing player base.  I hope people can see through the cracks and see the game that is ultimately going to be there behind the walled gardens.  I feel like I can and since I am also rabidly gobbling up all of the news that is leaking out about the content that is waiting on the console players September 6th…  I am so sold that I am planning on playing once again on two different platforms.  I am just not sure that we sold Ammo on the experience other than giving her a fun night of running a space shooter dungeon.

 

5 thoughts on “When A Beta Isn’t

  1. The main take home that I got from trying the beta is that it very much isn’t directed at a newcomer to the franchise.

    I decided that I felt about as lost as some returning bloggers trying out GW2’s Path of Fire expansion, in that there wasn’t the usual polish of slowly introduced hotkey commands I expect from FPS tutorials: there was a terrible decision to default real names to “on” in the settings; I couldn’t figure out for the life of me how to get a male Titan character (apparently I didn’t keep trying to make a new character and backing in and out of the menu screen long enough – silly me, one would think doing the same thing three times and getting the same result meant it was stuck that way).

    I was pretty disappointed not to have a gander at the open world PvE aspect, which I was considering picking up Destiny 2 for, since I have very little interest in the competitive PvP bits, have no RL friends to co-op with, nor a lot of interest in randomly pugging PvE.

    Instead, I settled for trying out the Strike, whereupon I promptly discovered to my horror that it was mostly a 3D jumping puzzle, in a game whose controls I was totally unfamiliar with, in a map I was seeing for the first time, while two randoms were racing ahead at full tilt.

    My Titan sank like a stone multiple times while its operator was still working out the “Lift” / double jump feature of the class; missed landing on platforms and fell into dark space because its operator had no clue what was actually solid and what was actually air with some scenic background about three times; got stuck figuring out some levers and a giant fan because its operator couldn’t discern the glowing orange portal was meant to be walked through – as opposed to trying to jump and platform on spinning fan blades, or bounce off the fiery fan/portal which seemed to be forcefully propelling air towards a convenient-looking platform…

    …all in all, I died maybe 7-10 times from various falls before getting to the end boss, whereupon there were more deaths because presumably a Titan shooting at things would attract aggro (and/or I sucked at evading mechanics) and the trio (hard to call it a team when there was no coordination) finally wiped with the boss at one fifth health remaining.

    I played it a lot more cautious the second go, mostly hiding my ass behind pillars and a shield wall, died maybe just 2 or 3 times, and the trio finally managed to kill the boss. After which, the other two acted overjoyed and started dancing… which totally bamboozled me because I was mostly thinking, “well, that was horrendous and messy and probably a lot better with RL friends.”

    I have to say, that’s not the best nor most positive impression of the game that I could have built. It’s mostly convinced me to wait and see.

  2. Also, not to mention, that you can pay for it with WoW tokens, might give people with too many of those an excuse to try it as well. I had a hard time getting comfortable with it last night on a PC – I think mostly because I am so used to a controller with D1, plus playing it on a 60″ screen vs my little PC monitor.
    Isey recently posted..Lack of Trust – Loot BoxesMy Profile

  3. Maybe, though, your initial assessment of “because it was on the Blizzard launcher I’ll give it a shot” or even “holy carp everyone on my Blizzard friend’s list is playing Destiny 2 maybe I should check it out” would be a better draw than what a demo could offer. Like you said, if someone bounced off D1 then the demo might be detrimental, but if PC players (the new demographic for Destiny, sort of) see everyone in their Blizzard friends list playing D2 instead of OW or WoW or HotS or HS or whatever…the silent recommendation might be a stronger draw, but not until its released.
    Scopique recently posted..Starfinder – Salmon in the Peanut ButterMy Profile

    • I think the strongest draw there…. will be if they still see those same friends playing Destiny instead of other Blizzard games in January or February instead of the obligatory love fest that is going to be October and November.

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